The man was standing in the road, surrounded by Pierce County Sheriff’s deputies, when he reached in his pocket and pulled out a loaded gun.
As Spanaway resident Heath Davis watched, he was certain the deputies were about to shoot the man.
“One more twitch and they probably would have,” he said.
But they didn’t. The man tossed his weapon on the ground, deputies rushed to retrieve the gun and arrest the man, who minutes earlier was pointing the gun at a vehicle Davis was driving with his 11-year-old daughter, Megan.
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Davis left the scene, impressed by the officers. “I just wish it had been on the news so people could see these guys (the deputies) resolving this and doing it the right way. All we see on the news is the bad stuff.”
The situation started shortly after 2 p.m. on April 7 when deputies responded to a call that the man had stepped out from behind a tree and pointed the handgun at Davis and his daughter as they drove near the intersection of 160th Street East and Military Road East in Spanaway.
Davis said the man was holding the gun sideways. He told Megan to duck as he sped away and called 911.
The deputies gave this account of what happened when they arrived:
Three deputies, armed with rifles, started searching residential areas on foot. After five minutes they saw the man wearing a poncho over a hooded sweatshirt and walking south on Military Road. The 40-year-old man also had a cane under his poncho. Deputies would later discover the cane was actually a sword.
After a fourth deputy arrived, the suspect kept walking slowly toward the deputies while staring at the ground. The deputies took defensive positions in ditches as they ordered the suspect to get on the ground and show them his hands.
The suspect continued to ignore them.
A request was sent for a ballistic shield, less-lethal projectile weapons and a negotiator. The suspect dropped objects including his cane sword as he continued moving slowly toward the deputies. As the man paced in circles, more deputies arrived and gave commands over a public address system.
Concerned they didn’t have time to wait for a projectile launcher, deputies approached the man with rifles drawn and behind the cover of the shields.
This is when the man pulled out the gun and tossed it aside. Deputies later discovered the gun was loaded with 10 rounds. A deputy used a Taser to subdue the man so they could handcuff him.
Davis identified the man and was stunned when he saw the gun was loaded.
Deputies later learned the man, who told them he was dying, had been experiencing suicidal thoughts after smoking cigarettes dipped in PCP.
The suspect was booked into Pierce County Jail for first-degree assault, possessing a dangerous weapon as a felon, resisting arrest and obstructing law enforcement.
Davis said he was impressed with how smoothly the deputies handled the situation, especially after learning that of the nine who responded, seven had been on patrol for two years or less.
“They are good dudes,” Davis said. “There are still good cops out there and they’re training them good, too."
Davis says he plans to push for jail time for the suspect, but also for mental counseling “so that when he eventually gets out he will straighten up. I think that’s more helpful.”
“All of us in the world could use therapy at times in our lives,” Davis said. “I think that would make this more of a safe, calm world.”